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Bellaire Area Dentist Blog
Lots of people collect Beatles memorabilia, but one Canadian dentist took this hobby to new heights recently when he paid $31,200 for John Lennon's molar at auction. According to published reports, Lennon had given the extracted tooth to his housekeeper as a souvenir in the 1960s after coming home from the dentist's office. The molar was discolored and had a cavity, according to the dentist who purchased it after the housekeeper's family put it up for bids. “For the cavity to be this large he probably wasn't seeing a dentist that regularly,” the dentist said. His brushing and flossing routine may not have been that conscientious either!
For healthy teeth, it's important to have a good daily oral hygiene routine at home and regular professional cleanings here at the office. Our hygienist will scale your teeth to remove hard deposits (tartar), and polish them to remove stains for a wonderful, extra-clean feeling.
Dental hygienists are trained to do lots of other things to promote your oral health besides cleaning your teeth. They can check the skin in and around your mouth looking for any suspicious bumps, sores, etc., that may need further evaluation. They will also evaluate your periodontal health (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), checking for signs of gum inflammation and bleeding (gingivitis). And they monitor teeth for signs of decay, which is actually the world's most widespread disease.
Cavities, or dental caries as it is also known, are the most notable consequences of tooth decay. Left untreated, caries can lead to pain and tooth loss. John Lennon's dentist must have believed there was nothing more to be done for the badly decayed molar that later went on to fetch such a high price.
Unless you're a rock star, your teeth are worth a lot more in a healthy and functioning state — inside your mouth! So if it's been a while since your last appointment, please come in and see us. Remember: Good dental health is priceless.
If you would like more information on tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “Tooth Decay.” Dear Doctor also has more on the “Dental Hygiene Visit.”
For many parents, the image of an infant intently absorbed in sucking a pacifier — or her own thumb — is one of the cherished memories of babyhood. But if this habit goes on for too long, it can cause problems with the child's bite. Want to know what the potential predicaments are, when you should be concerned about the behavior, and what you can do? Read on!
Thumb sucking is a natural, comforting behavior of humans (and some other primates) related to nursing. It usually goes away on its own by the time the permanent teeth are coming in. But it can be a hard habit to break — and if it becomes a persistent behavior, the consequences may include a problem called an “open bite.”
In a normal bite, the top teeth slightly overlap the bottom teeth. When the thumb (or any other object) constantly rests between the upper and lower teeth, however, the pressure it exerts may prevent the teeth from fully erupting (coming out from the gums into the mouth) and alter the shape and development of the upper and lower jawbone. This result is a gap between the upper and lower teeth.
The same problem may also be caused by prolonging the “infantile swallowing pattern,” a forward-thrusting position of the tongue which, like thumb sucking, normally begins to cease around age four. That's when it is replaced by the adult swallowing pattern, where the tongue is held behind the teeth, against the roof on the mouth. Researchers believe that most open bites result from the failure to change from the infantile to the adult swallowing pattern.
When should you be concerned about the thumb sucking habit? If the behavior continues much past toddlerhood, or if the sucking is particularly active, you may wish to have us evaluate your child's bite. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends having the habit stop by age 3. Persistent thumb sucking can actually push the teeth forward and change the growth patterns of the jaw, creating more difficult problems.
There are several methods for controlling the behavior and correcting problems with the bite. One is an appliance called a “tongue crib.” This thin metal device is placed behind the upper and lower incisors. It discourages thumb sucking, while at the same time helping to keep the tongue from inserting itself between the upper and lower teeth. Eliminating these unhelpful habits is essential to allow the teeth to erupt into proper position and to allow for the normal development of the jawbones.
Recent research has also shown that individualized exercise routines called orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) can be highly effective in preventing open bite relapses. These exercises are designed to retrain muscles in the face, tongue and lips, and can help to create good chewing and swallowing patterns.
If you would like more information about thumb sucking or children's bite problems, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about these issues by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects The Bite.”
Before determining if a bridge or an implant will work best for you, here is some useful background information. There are two main parts to a tooth; the crown or part that you see above the gum line and the root portion that is below the gum line and encased in bone — the part that is replaced by a dental implant.
A dental implant is inserted into the jawbone during a surgical procedure. The implant is actually a titanium screw-like device that is placed in contact with the bone. During a 3 to 6 month healing period, it subsequently fuses to the bone. A crown made from dental porcelain, gold or a combination of both is then attached to the implant to mimic a healthy, normal tooth.
There are two critical reasons why implants are the preferred method for permanently replacing an adult tooth. The first is that they are less susceptible to gum disease and they are not subject to tooth decay. The second is that because they attach to the jawbone and not to the adjacent teeth. And while an implant may cost a little more initially, when compared to the longevity and replacement cost of bridgework over a lifetime, they may cost less.
By contrast, a fixed bridge is also a non-removable restoration or prosthesis (replacement part) that is held in place by attaching it to your natural adjacent teeth. The treatment gets its name from the French word for bridge, “pont,” as the tooth being replaced is called a pontic. Before placing a bridge, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth must be prepared by removing layers of tooth enamel. Three new teeth are then crafted as a single unit from dental porcelain and/or precious metals with crowns on either side of the pontic. The pontic is held in place when the crowns are placed. Bridgework is at risk for gum disease and tooth decay and requires careful maintenance.
As with most dental procedures you have options and choices. Luckily, when it comes to determining whether a bridge or an implant will work best for you, you can rely upon our expertise. However, by having a clear understanding of these two options you are now better prepared for working with us should you require this treatment option. To learn more read the article, “Implants Vs. Bridgework.” Or, contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
Whitening your teeth is an easy way for most people to achieve a brighter, more appealing smile. And for older adults, it can also contribute to a more youthful appearance. We are often asked how our tooth whitening products and services stack up when compared to the many over-the-counter (OTC) products available at discount and drug stores. The following are some key facts to understand about teeth whitening so that you can receive the results you want.
What is the real difference between professional products and ones I can buy over-the-counter?
Whether you purchase over-the-counter whitening strips, toothpaste, mouthrinses, or “paint on” tooth whitening products, you are basically receiving the same product, but with a lower concentration of carbamide peroxide, the chemical responsible for teeth whitening. And while some of the products may contain a slightly higher concentration of this solution, they all are under strict governmental guidelines for ensuring you experience little to no side-effects as long as you follow the instructions. However, with our bleaching products and services, you are under the care of a trained professional and thus can receive much higher concentrations without compromising your health or the health of your teeth. This fact means that under our care you can achieve more dramatic results faster.
How long will the results last?
Bleaching is not a permanent solution; thus, your results will diminish over a six-month to one year period of time. However, it doesn't take much to touch up or maintain your white smile in a single visit, or with custom-made whitening trays that we can provide for home use. You can also keep your brighter smile a little longer by avoiding food that stains your teeth. And when drinking coffee, tea, cola, wine and other drinks like these, sip them using a straw so that they are less likely to discolor your teeth.
Is bleaching safe for my teeth?
We pride ourselves on providing and promoting optimal oral healthcare and thus would never offer any products or services that are unsafe. Additionally, there are numerous studies supporting the overall safety of whitening your teeth. We are careful to avoid sensitivity, which is an occasional side effect of intensive bleaching, and we suggest protecting the teeth with fluoride.
Want to learn more?
Model Christie Brinkley's smile has been a symbol of America's optimism since the seventies. Particularly well known for being the cover model for three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions, Brinkley still has a fresh-faced American girl-next-door beauty that starts with her cheerful smile, which transmits the message that all is well.
Brinkley's modeling career began when she was “discovered” in Paris in the seventies, at the age of 18. As she explained in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, it was like a fairy tale. She had gone to study art in Paris, where a fashion designer spotted her walking down the street. “He told me later he immediately thought, ‘That's the girl!’” she said.
Brinkley attributes her famous smile to a combination of good genetics (she inherited her mother's “beautiful straight teeth”), combined with the intelligence to practice good oral hygiene and have regular dental appointments. She never needed to have work done to prepare her for the modeling life; but as a teenager, she said, she wished she could wear braces because she thought the “coolest kids had them.”
Although dental restorations were not needed to enhance her beautiful natural smile, she did have two dental implants after she fractured two rear molars in a bad helicopter crash while back-country skiing, and she says she is thankful for dental implant technology because it looks and feels so natural.
Brinkley said that her smile led directly to her assignment as spokesperson for a brand of oral rinse and mouthwash products. She is also concerned about the environment. Her company Christie, Inc. is designing environmentally friendly products.
Her advice to everyone is to smile more. “I think a smile makes EVERYONE beautiful! It's the greatest gift we give each other... It's an expression of friendship, love and peace!”
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